New Trends In Manufacturing - Rapid Prototyping

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There is today an extensive range of applications for Rapid Prototyping technology. Few other technologies are versatile enough to aid the design and manufacture in industries so varied as medical, aerospace, automobile etc. In medical industry, the use of Rapid Prototyping technology coupled with other techniques has led to improvement in services offered to patients by improvements in such areas as 3D visualization of a specific anatomy, surgical planning, implant designs and prostheses production. In this paper we report on investigations to develop prosthetic designs that are effective and yield the best design outcomes along with long-term biocompatibility. The approach adopted is to integrate image visualization software, CAD systems and Rapid prototyping systems in the design and manufacture of the prosthetic devices (model of skull) based on data obtained from Computed Tomography (CT) device.

Rapid prototyping is a term for layer manufacturing techniques, "rapid" referring to the fact that these techniques allow for rather quick production of prototypes in e.g. motor construction. However, in clinical application the term "prototyping" is rather misleading since the models being produced show an actual anatomical situation and thus are not exactly prototypes.

The rapid prototyping process that is used by RapidPro Manufacturing is a layer-additive process. A software program slices a 3-D CAD model into thin cross-sections or layers. A laser beam traces each layer onto the surface of a vat of liquid photo polymeric material, which solidifies when exposed to ultraviolet light. The solidified layer is then lowered into the vat so that another layer of liquid is ready to be exposed to the laser.

This process is repeated until all the cross-sections have been built up into a solid replica of the original CAD model. The process can be held to tolerances of +/- 0.005/inch. The resulting parts are strong enough to be snapped together, drilled and tapped, finished and painted, and built into assemblies. Nowadays rapid prototyping is applied not only in industry but also in medicine.

APPLICATIONS OF RAPID PROTOTYPING

Rapid prototyping is widely used in the automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer products industries. Although the possible applications are virtually limitless, nearly all fall into one of the following categories: prototyping, rapid tooling, or rapid manufacturing. The purpose of rapid prototyping in medicine is to provide the surgeon with a means to plan and practice surgery in advance. The most obvious application is as a means to design, develop and manufacture medical devices and instrumentation.. Examples of medical instruments designed using the technology include retractors, scalpels, surgical fasteners, display systems and many other devices.

New Developments

RapidPro Manufacturing has surfaced a cost and time effective process to produce rapid tooling for thermoformed parts. With (SLS) Selective Laser Sintering, Now fabrication of Thermoforming Tooling is done so that they can produce low volume pre-production Thermoformed parts quickly and inexpensively.

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